The NHL preseason is now in full swing, the AHL will get started next week, and over the next couple of weeks the ECHL & SPHL training camps will open.

It’s Time to Wake Up and Smell the Ice

Hockey fans say that the smell of fresh ice is a distinctly beautiful thing. Fresh ice is like springtime, it marks the time of renewal: where the ice is as unblemished as the teams who skate on it. A time where hopes are high and dreams of championships float through the minds of hockey fans everywhere. Are you smelling the freshly laid ice yet? Our friends in Peoria are…

This week around the SPHL, several teams announced player signings while others wait to pick up the ECHL training camp cutdowns. This is the time where the SPHL teams play it very tight – and the rumors start to fly.

Around the League

Unconfirmed Twitter reports have the IceGators signing another forward from the FHL. Vladyslav Gavrik, who has played for the Ukranian national team in both junior and senior squads is set to join the competetion to land a spot on one of the IceGators’ forward lines. Gavrik split time last year with Berkshire and Danbury in the FHL, scoring 42 points in 42 games.

Speaking of unconfirmed reports, former IceGators winger Bret Peppler is said to have signed with the Ice Bears, along with Stephen Sansa, who played with earlier signee Zachary Vit in France, and Division 3 players Brendan McCarron from Framingham (MA) State & Dan McDougall from Neumann (PA) University.  Peppler led the IceGators with 24 goals, and was the league’s leading sniper last season – finding the net on 19.4% of his shot attempts. McCarron, a forward, played 20 games for the Rams and scored 10 goals with 13 assists last season. Blueliner McDougall played in 24 games for the Knights, putting up 13 points with only 12 penalty minutes. Winger Jake Johnson, who played 27 games last season for the SPHL champions, has signed to play overseas in the German Oberliga for IceFighters Leipzig.

That’s not a typo, Gator fans. Bret Peppler is set to be an Ice Bear. Stay tuned as this story develops.

More reliable news from Louisiana reports three new IceGator signees. Casey Goll – who played the last ten games of the regular season – has signed up for a full season. Nick Kuqali began last season with the IceGators before moving on to Huntsville and the Wheeling Nailers. Kuqali will now begin a second season in Louisiana. In addition to the two defensemen, Jon Puskar, a former Ice Flyer, has inked a deal to play in the Cajundome.

The Peoria Rivermen remained active this week. The regular-season champions re-signed more offensive pieces in center Josh Harris and wingers Steve Morra & former IceGator Jake Trask. The competetion to back up Kyle Rank is taking shape as the Rivs sign former Ottawa draftee Francois Brassard, who just completed his junior hockey career in the Q; Dustin Carlson, who played in eight games for Peoria last season; and  Nick Horrigan, who played college hockey at SUNY-Geneseo. Finally, defenseman Mike Donnellan signed with the Rivs. Donnellan spent most of his time with FHL Watertown, but also played a few games with Huntsville.

Over in Southaven, the RiverKings bring back an integral part of the team that reached the President’s Cup Final. Center Devin Mantha was the second-highest scorer for the RiverKings with 46 points. Mantha, the team leader in assists last season, returns for a third season with Mississippi. Benjamin Rubin looks to be headed to ECHL Brampton to attend training camp with the Beast. Rubin played for the IceGators last season and was traded to Mississippi in the deal that sent goalie Adam Courchaine to Louisiana.

Pensacola adds a pair of  rookie forwards. Zac Frischmon, a center from Mercyhurst (PA) University, put up 7 goals and 12 assists in his final season with the Lakers. Joining him is forward Ryan Kesti from Northern Michigan. Kesti, a 6’2″ Minnesota native, scored 9 points in his senior season with the Wildcats.

Finally, the Huntsville Havoc bring their preseason roster to 25 players with the signings of defenseman Paul Clancy and rookie forward John Lidgett. Clancy played the last two seasons for the RiverKings, scoring two points in 17 games last season. Lidgett, who graduated from Colgate (NY) University, scored 17 points in 38 games for the Raiders.

Other News and Notes

The Louisiana IceGators became the sixth team to announce a uniform change for the 2015-16 season. Similar to Peoria and Huntsville, the IceGators are going with the Canadiens-style chest stripe on the green jersey. The white jersey channels the Chicago Blackhawks with its sleeve and waist striping.

With all of the jersey and logo changes in the SPHL this year, we may need to put together a fashion guide.

The Peoria Rivermen have a new voice. Brad Kupiec takes over the broadcasting duties from Greg Halbleib in the press box.

Twenty-Eight Days Later…

There are 28 days remaining until opening night. The Sin Bin will continue to bring you all of the latest news in the SPHL. Before the puck drops, we’ll have season previews for the SPHL and all nine teams. Follow us on Twitter at @SinBinIceGators and on Facebook at Five For Chomping.


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